Easy going: 2018 Ford Figo Trend sedan

2018-11-29 06:00
PHOTOS: quickpicThe 2018 Ford Figo Trend.

PHOTOS: quickpicThe 2018 Ford Figo Trend.

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“Much better,” declared the owner of a previous-generation hatch as he ran his hands over the dash of our test car — a 2018 Ford Figo Trend sedan.

“It’s so much neater,” he continued, “and the buttons and screen are a lot tidier. Those on my car are a mess. I almost didn’t buy it.”

It isn’t only the new display — not quite a touchscreen, yet neater than the old dot matrix device — but everything else that came with the mid-2018 facelift. New cloth for door panels and seats make the interior look more modern. The stylish honeycomb grille looks good, as do the reworked bumper and chromed accents around the fog lights. Trend models have restyled 14” alloy wheels while the Ambiente boasts new caps for its steel rims. Subtle changes to tail lamps and rear bumper play their parts in making that end look more contemporary.

Apart from that, measurements, brakes, suspension and weights remain much as before, while the range has been trimmed from nine models to five. There are no longer any diesel hatchbacks and Titanium level is history — for now at least. Your choices consist of one engine, two trim levels (Ambiente and Trend), three hatches (one of which offers a six-speed automatic) and two five-speed manual shift sedans.

The final change is a completely new 1,5-litre motor that is similar to its predecessor only in that both displace 1498 cc. Ti-VCT valve control helps it to produce 88 kW of peak power and 150 Nm of torque. According to a Ford of India statement, “along with improved performance, the new engine offers a seven percent reduction in CO2 emissions and a similar improvement in fuel efficiency through reductions in weight and size, as well as the application of innovative technologies.

“The engine downsizes from four cylinders to three-in-line, resulting in decreased weight, lower friction and an overall 10% reduction in bulk. Its aluminium engine block and cylinder head contribute to substantial weight reduction and better fuel economy.

“The exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head helps to heat the catalyst faster, thus decreasing emissions. A new variable oil pump can operate at lower pressure at slow speeds with reduced friction loss, so improving fuel economy”.

Ford India’s engineering team steered development of the new engine with key inputs at every stage — from design through to development and then production. More than 80% of its parts are sourced from Indian suppliers.

Is it any good? Apart from the fact that power, versus the old motor, is up by six kilowatts at the same revs, torque improved by 14 Nm from 136 to 150. Reduced losses to friction, and greater combustion efficiency, have something to do with that. To put it into perspective, this engine shares honours with Honda’s 1497 cc multi-purpose mill as the most powerful, naturally aspirated, 1,5-litre motors in South Africa at present. It drives smoothly, the gearbox is pleasant, there’s good mid-range thrust, it never feels stressed and it returned better real-world fuel economy than the old one did. We reckon it’s a winner.

But you can’t have everything. This is Ford’s entry-level range with prices hovering around R200 000. That means things like a telescoping steering column; height adjustable driver’s seat and the last word in luxury are best forgotten. If you want “fancy”, with more sophisticated safety systems and upmarket gadgets, buy a Fiesta. They sell in similar quantities, as Ford SA’s joint passenger car champions, while serving similar demographics. It’s just the wallets that differ.

Bearing that in mind, Ford’s mass market Figo does what it’s designed to do. It carries a medium-sized family with lots of baggage over indifferent surfaces confidently, quietly, economically and without fuss. We’re pretty sure that previous-generation owners will return for an encore.

Test car from Ford SA press fleet

The numbers

Price: R197 950

Engine: 1 498 cc, DOHC three-cylinder, 12-valve petrol

Power: 88 kW at 6 300 rpm

Torque: 150 Nm at 4 250 rpm

Zero to 100 km/h: 11,8 seconds

Maximum speed: 175 km/h

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